I have spent some time in the movie theater, as this is the best time of year for films. Wednesday night I had dinner at Amazing Thailand with some friends. This is really a lovely restaurant. So beautifully decorated and the food really is amazing. The presentation is lovely and everyone really enjoyed their food. I had a curry that was delicious. I definitely will be going back - I think next time I'll try the Pad Thai, because that's always my measuring stick for a Thai restaurant. After dinner we saw this film:
This is a fantastic, beautiful book and the film does the book justice. It's about an upper class young woman, Cecilia, played by Keira Knightly who falls in love with the housekeeper's son, Robbie, played by James McAvoy. One hot summer day Cecilia's younger sister, Briony, sees Cecilia and Robbie through a window and misunderstands what she sees. She ends up ruining all of their lives by her misinterpretation, a story that is heartbreaking and yet beautiful. I remember how much I was frustrated and irritated by Briony when I read the book and the young actress who plays Briony brings her to life exactly as I imagined her. Knightly and McAvoy are both gorgeous and really make you care about what happens to this young couple, also. The cinematography is beautiful - this really is a film to be seen on the big screen. The story is told in three parts, like the book - the opening act at the family's country home in between World War I and II, Robbie in France during World War II and Cecilia and Briony working as nurses in London during the war. The book is really epic and I wondered how they could make it into a film that wasn't 5 hours long, but they really did a good job. Things are edited, but you still really get a full picture of the story and don't feel like you're missing something like you sometimes do with book adaptations. I think this year is going to be very competitive in the adapted screenplay Oscar race. I would recommend both the film and the book to you.
Friday night I saw "It's a Meaningless Life and Other Twisted Holiday Tales", a storytelling cabaret put on by Joseph Scrimshaw and his usual collaborators - his brother Joshua, Pablo, his wife Sara, Tim Uren and Philip Low and Alan Berks. It was a little bit uneven, but some pieces were really hilarious. My favorite was Joshua Scrimshaw's tale of his grandmother, including one trip he and Joe took with their mother to visit her in Texas. Joseph did two pieces - one based on the Christmas Carol, one year later and the other I'm blanking on right this second. He and Sara did The Nutcracker in 5 minutes, which was really funny and showed how ridiculous that ballet really is, from a logical viewpoint. I was unfortunate enough to be sitting in front of a very loud and boisterous (and possibly intoxicated) woman. We also had an older couple in the front row who declared to Pablo in a bit of audience interaction that they were offended by the show and wanted their money back. I'm not sure what they were expecting of a show called "It's a Meaningless Life", but apparently something more Christmasy. Some people! If you enjoy a little dark humor and storytelling, I recommend it. It's playing at the Garage Theater through next weekend.
Yesterday was Talk Cinema and I saw one of my favorite films of the year:
Wow. This was just a stunning movie. It's based on the autobiography of a French man, Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was editor of French Vogue Magazine - incredibly handsome, rich, successful, had it all. Then he has a massive stroke and is completely paralyzed, except for one eyelid. A speech therapist works out a system that allows him to spell out words by choosing letters by blinking and so he's able to communicate with friends and family and writes this autobiography using this method. It sounds like it's maudlin and corny, but it really isn't. If you made the story up it would sound impossibly and hokey, but it's all true and such a testament to human determination. And yet, he's no saint. It's a portrait of a man that is very truthful. The film is directed by Julian Schnabel and his experience as a visual artist is evident in every frame. Most of the story is told through Bauby's perspective, so you see things sometimes blurry, often uncentered, sometimes with his eyelid as part of the frame. It's just so different from anything else I've seen. Janusz Kaminski, who happens to be my favorite cinematographer (he's worked with Steven Spielberg pretty often), is the cinematographer and proves his brilliance once again.
Mathieu Almaric plays Jean-Do, as his friends call him, and gives a stunning performance. There are some scenes that show Jean-Do either before the stroke or simply as he remembers himself and he's just the essence of the French dreamboat - so gorgeous and smooth and impeccably dressed and you can really see what he's lost. But most of the time he's completely paralyzed and honestly really does act using only one eye. It's just amazing. Max Von Sydow plays Jean-Do's father and there's two fantastic scenes with him that are just devastating. At the end of the film, I just wanted to weep, it was so gut-wrenching. I really hope that this film wins the Best Foreign Film Oscar. I can't imagine there will be another film that can rival it's beauty and impact.